Anaal Nathrakh – The Whole of the Law (Review)

Anaal NathrakhAnaal Nathrakh are a UK black metal band and this is their ninth album.

This is the follow up to 2014’s Desideratum. Continuing their slow-burning evolution of merging the underground filthy side of black metal with something altogether more modern and epic in scope, The Whole of the Law is their latest scathing attempt to marry these two aspects of extreme metal into a cohesive whole.

This is always a hard thing to do, which is why not many attempt it. This is also why, (but not the only reason), that a band like Anaal Nathrakh have always stood apart from a lot of their peers. Here’s a band with a distinct personality of their own and they will only do things their way, without compromise.

This manifests in their trademark style of catchiness and morbidity; of extreme, impenetrable darkness and soaring, epic atmosphere. Add to this a pseudo-industrial sheen and a good helping of utter malevolence and hatred, and you have Anaal Nathrakh; standing tall and ominously nasty.

The songs are a good mix of the insanely aggressive and cutting, deranged majesty. It’s an unusual combination that very few bands would be able to pull off, if they were even tempted to try, of course.

Blasting hate-fuelled extremity mixes with darkly melodic leads and threat-filled keyboards. Acid-etched vocals scream and shriek with bile and passion, occasionally stopping for powerful cleans to tear out from the blackened distortion. In some ways what they do is a contradiction and it shouldn’t work, but by crikey it does.

Crazily catchy and memorable for songs that are essentially the aural equivalent of well-adorned torturer’s knives, the songs on this album are very, very good indeed. It’s quite hard to describe a band like this in many ways, especially when you’ve been listening to them for so long. All I know is that when you listen to them you’re grabbed roughly by the neck and it’s ALL SO FUCKING EXCITING.

You gotta love Anaal Nathrakh, it’s that simple.

There are also two cover versions as bonus tracks – one by The Specials, (I can’t comment on the original), and one of Iron Maiden’s Powerslave, which is every bit as unhinged and corrupted as you would hope for.

My favourite Anaal Nathrakh releases are The Codex Necro and In the Constellation of the Black Widow. As much as I enjoyed Desideratum, The Whole of the Law is even better and even comes close to approaching the former two albums for sheer visceral enjoyment levels.

An essential listen for any fan of extreme metal.

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